To make up for the Mountain Man’s vegetarian dinner last week, I made him a double-meat dinner – chicken marsala.
Have I mentioned that I think it’s really funny that the Mountain Man was vegetarian for like 7 years, and now he can’t imagine a dinner without meat? And that he was vegetarian for environmental reasons, and now that I want to do one veg meal a week he’s having some adjustment difficulties? Oh Mountain Man, you’re funny. You don’t even have to try to be funny, you just are.
So to start the marsala, I fry up some bacon. I let it get kind of crispy, but not totally crispy. My produce market had some local bacon, so I used it. I usually like peppered bacon, but if it’s local, it wins. Stir the sliced bacon around to cook it, and then put it on a paper-towel lined plate and reserve the bacon fat.
Put some flour in a shallow dish and add some salt, pepper, cayenne, and maybe something green like basil. Dredge some chicken breasts/thighs/fingers/chunks/whatever in the flour. You could even use pork. Or, if you’re into it, veal.
Put some of the bacon fat back in the pan (I figure if you’re cooking with bacon, you may as well use the fat) and cook the chicken for a few minutes on each side, until it develops a crust and releases easily from the pan. Put it on a plate and keep it warm in the oven. I figure if you’re cooking with bacon, you may as well use the fat.
You’re supposed to use tomato paste, but I didn’t have any. I drained a can of diced tomatoes and blended them. Close enough. Since this would make a thinner sauce than tomato paste, I’ll add some flour to the sauce to thicken it.
Put a pot of water on to boil for your pasta.
Once the onions have softened, add some mojo de ajo and the mushrooms and saute for a minute. Then a little bit of flour. Maybe a tablespoon. I didn’t measure. Stir it around and make sure it cooks so it doesn’t taste raw in the sauce, and break up and clumps. It may create a thick gooey mess and stick to the pan. That’s OK, it will deglaze when you add liquid.
Add the Marsala wine and stir it around, scraping up the mess on the bottom of your pan. Stir in the tomato paste/puree and the juice from 1/2 a lemon. If you like lemon, use the whole thing.
We had half a head of cabbage leftover from the borsccht, and I already had the mojo de ajo out, so I decided to saute cabbage in mojo. The mountain man thinks it’s hilarious to get in front of the camera while I’m taking pictures. He’s lucky we met after digital cameras replaced film, or we may not have stayed together after his first attempt at hilarity. Good film (and then developing it) was expensive.
When your sauce tastes adequately de-boozed, add a couple of tablespoons of chilled butter (cut in smallish chunks) to finish the sauce. Did I mention that this is not a diet dinner? I also like to add some fresh chopped rosemary. When your noodles are cooked, pile it all on a plate.
Oh yum. The mountain man was happy for a dual-animal-dinner. We ate this for 3 days, and now that it’s gone I’m really sad.